Leo's Answers #165 – February 10, 2009

Leo's Answers
A Weekly Newsletter From
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Leo Notenboom


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*** Contents

*** This Week's New Articles on Ask Leo!

How long should I keep my backups?

Whenever I back up the registry, how long do I have to keep the entries? I have some from '07. I want to delete them.

I'm going to expand on your question just a little bit and talk about backups in general as well, not just registry backups.

The answer is that it depends on the reason for your having made a backup in the first place.

Let's look at some of the reasons, and the implication on what's called "data retention".

Continue reading: "How long should I keep my backups?"

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How does using BCC help reduce spam?

Is it true that if I use BCC to email attachments, it will mean less danger of spam? How's that?

It's not so much about attachments, as it is any email you receive and then forward.

And it's not so much about saving yourself from getting more spam, but saving the people that sent you the email you're about to forward.

It's all about keeping their email addresses private and un-harvestable.

Continue reading: "How does using BCC help reduce spam?"

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How do all these "Documents" folders relate to each other?

In "My Computer," I have a folder "My Documents" - 12.9 GB, 11.7 GB size on disk. I also have a folder "Robert and Brenda's Documents" - 12.9 GB, 11.7 GB size on disk. Then there is a folder "C:Documents and SettingsRobert and BrendaMy Documents" - 12.9 GB, 11.7 GB on disk.

Am I actually using roughly 36 GB for these? And, if so, what if any of these, can I safely delete?

Windows is trying to be helpful, and in the process is being slightly confusing as well.

If you look closely at the contents of those three folders you'll find that they're strikingly similar. Identical even.

And that would be our clue.

Continue reading: "How do all these "Documents" folders relate to each other?"

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How do I Uninstall Windows Live Messenger?

I installed Windows Live Messenger 2009 (aka Messenger 9) and it's not working for me so I want to uninstall it. Problem is it's not listed in Control Panel. Like others uninstalling Messenger 9 I've deleted the files from the systems disk but whenever I try reinstalling Messenger 8.5 it says that I'm still using 9.0. Should I give up and just reformat my whole system?

I've been getting variations on this question a lot lately because people can't seem to resist installing Beta software. (Hint: don't - no matter what anyone says - unless you really know what you're doing.)

As with all Beta software, there may be problems and you may find yourself wanting to revert to the previous version.

Except in this case Microsoft has done a nice job of hiding the uninstaller. Yes, it's there, it's just not obvious. And no, a reformat isn't required.

Continue reading: "How do I Uninstall Windows Live Messenger?"

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Should I get an additional internal or external hard drive?

I have a 80 GB hard disk in my system. I'd like to upgrade the storage capacity. Which is a better option: getting an external hard disk or internal hard disk?

It depends.

It depends on how you use the machine, how comfortable you are installing hardware, and how much effort you want to go through.

Let's add "replace the existing hard drive" to the mix, and review all three options.

Continue reading: "Should I get an additional internal or external hard drive?"

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What are all these other pictures that appear when I view a picture from email?

When I open a picture attachment from an e-mail it opens the Windows picture and fax viewer. It shows the attachment fine, but when I click the navigation arrows within the viewer, there are always endless images that it will scroll through. Some images are from web sites and some appear to be other pictures, but ones that I do not recognize. Can you tell me if these are images on my machine, or if they somehow came embedded in the original e-mail that I received?

They are images on your machine.

Understanding why they're there and how they got there requires a short explanation of how your email program handles that request to view a picture, and how that interacts with other programs on your machine.

Continue reading: "What are all these other pictures that appear when I view a picture from email?"

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*** Featured Comments

A sampling of some of the comments that have been posted recently on Ask Leo!

* * *

Can I send text messages between a computer and a cell phone?

J.F. Kirk writes:

I am disabled so on PC a LOT and needed to send messages to family and friends so I looked online and found the following info:

Verizon Wireless:(cell#)@vtext.com,
AT&T:(cell#)@mobile.att.net,
Cingular:(cell#)@mycingular.com,
Nextel:(cell#)@messaging.nextel.com,
T-Mobile:(cell#)@tmomail.net,
Sprint:(cell#)@messaging.sprintpcs.com,
Tracfone:(cell#)@cingularme.com,
and if unknown carrier (cell#)@teleflip.com

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Should I get an additional internal or external hard drive?

Rahul Mehta writes:

The purpose for increasing the capacity plays a major role in making this decision.

One advantage of an external drive is portability. If you are storing media files - pictures, music, video, you can take it along and connect to any computer to have these available there. Performance here is not of question as the media programs use buffering for replay.

For backups, the same advantage comes in to play if your main computer crashes. Your data is safely portable.

If your use will be to access the stored files frequently, internal drive has the advantage. Even in this case I would suggest is an external drive. With a little reorganization moving older less accessed files to the external drive.

My own strategy was to change the internal drive to a larger drive, go through fresh re-installation of the system and converting the older internal drive to an external drive for extra storage. I now have extra storage with better performance for my frequently used files on the PC and portable space for my backup files.

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How do I recover my lost photos on my hard disk?

David writes:

Hmmm. I know the cardinal rule is back-up, back-up, back-up..........but to what media if the stuff is still going to be around in years to come? The more I read of CD and DVD, the more it seems that longevity is not quite what the hype would have you believe, sometimes becoming unreadable in a very short time . Hard drives fail - eventually. I use two external drives, plus a lap-top to store all my precious stuff but what is the best way to archive and back-up?

It depends on who you believe :-). I used to have data on floppy disks, and eventually copied it all to CD-ROM. Now I've copied my older CD-ROMs to a (pair of) hard disks. Eventually I expect I'll be copying those hard disks to some media-of-the-future.
But the point is an oft-debated one: what's the best storage media for the longest term? Best file format so that whatever you have can be read 20, 50 years from now?

-Leo

*** This Week's Most Popular

The ten most popular articles in the last 7 days on Ask Leo!

  1. How do I change my MSN Hotmail password?
  2. How do I delete history items from my Google tool bar?
  3. I accidentally deleted my Recycle Bin in Vista - how do I get it back?
  4. How do I make a new MSN Hotmail account?
  5. How do I delete my Hotmail account?
  6. My desktop Recycle Bin has disappeared - why, and how do I get it back?
  7. Can I send text messages between a computer and a cell phone?
  8. Why is my Task Manager disabled, and how do I fix it?
  9. Where is my Outlook "PST" file located?
  10. What are MSN HotMail's POP3 and SMTP settings for Outlook Express?

*** Leo Recommends

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Anyone can throw terms at Google and press "Search". Web Search Garage takes you beyond just throwing words on the virtual wall and seeing what sticks.

In short: buy this book if you want your search results to be quicker and more useful.

I consider myself a reasonably proficient web searcher, yet as I was reading this book I found myself making notes of new techniques to try that I hadn't thought of.

If you're at all interested in making your web search time more effective, investing in a copy of Web Search Garage is a great place to start.

Continue Reading ...

Each week I recommend a specific product or resource that I've found valuable and that I think you may as well. What does my recommendation mean?

*** Popular Articles from the Archives

Sometimes the internet is just ... spooky.

How do those ads know where I live?

I live in Baltimore. When I go to a website the site will often say things like "find sexy singles in Baltimore," and stuff like that. I use spyware software religiously. So how do they know where I live? And how do I get rid of it. These aren't local websites I'm visiting by the way.

Spooky, isn't it? I see the same thing when I visit certain websites. It's not always about "sexy singles", but they frequently nail me down to the Seattle area.

There are a couple of ways this can happen.

Continue reading...
How do those ads know where I live?
http://ask-leo.com/how_do_those_ads_know_where_i_live.html

*** Thoughts and Comments

Last week I mentioned that my cell phone had its own little adventure during my vacation trip to Orlando. Let's put it this way: when the ride has signs that say "make sure all loose items are stowed securely", and even go so far as to offer lockers for items you might carry ... don't forget the cell phone in your shirt pocket.

Yep, somewhere in the Revenge of the Mummy roller coaster is a (now inactive) Blackberry Pearl that apparently took a left when the ride took a sudden right.

Sigh.

Even though it wasn't found, kudos to the folks at Universal for their help, and a tip of the hat to Devin at Verizon Wireless in Orlando for getting me set up quickly with my replacement Blackberry Curve. It was doubly needed because of course as I mentioned last week my laptop had died, and my Blackberry was my remaining link to the internet.

My laptop remains dead (I'm using my desktop day-to-day, and my MacBook Pro as a portable backup), but I found that it's likely under warranty. All I need to do is isolate the broken part.

Always an adventure ... at home or on the road.

'till next time...

Leo
Leo A. Notenboom

* * *

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